Illegal Migrant Workers in UAE Left with 5-Days to Surrender

Ugandan migrant workers who are living illegally in the United Arab Emirates have only five days left to surrender for deportation or face prosecution.

While addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala on Wednesday,  Uganda’s Ambassador to the Emirates Wanume Zaake Kibedi, said that the UAE government granted a three months’ amnesty effective August to all illegal Ugandan migrants to surrender and be deported.

Ambassador Kibedi explained that following the amnesty, up to 3,000 people from different African nationalities that included Kenya, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda, among others, turned up to benefit from the pardon that will expire at the end of October.

The Ambassador explained that out of the 3,000 nationalities that turned for the blanket amnesty, 1,500 (50 percent) were Ugandans, 280 of them had their passports and were immediately repatriated in the first week of August, while 1,220 others were detained at Dubai’s Al Awir Deportation Camp.

However, to rescue them  Kibedi said, the Ugandan Embassy in the UAE sought permission from the Immigration Department under the Ministry of Internal Affairs to issue certificates of identity whixh were used to travel. The last group returned aboard Fly Dubai and Air Arabia on Monday October 24.

Col (Rtd) Charles Engola Okello Macodwogo, the Minister of State for Labour, Employment and Industrial Relations says that hundreds of Ugandans continue to flout formal labour export procedures and end being trafficked to the Middle East, including countries such as Jordan and Afghanistan, where the government has suspended externalization of migrant workers.

Statistics from the Ministry indicates that between 2016 to June 2021, companies licensed by the government deployed up to 201,637 worker’s to the Middle East. The Kingdom Saudi Arabia was the most attractive destination absorbing 60 per cent of the domestic workers, most of whom are trafficked and susceptible to human rights abuses and illicit human organ harvest.

Uganda formally launched labour export in 2005 to open up space to migrant workers to access employment opportunities abroad.

According to the Ministry, labour externalization has created over 300,000 job opportunities being occupied by Ugandans with an average monthly wage of 1 million Shillings for each migrant worker with Government bagging an annual USD 900 million, about 3.4 trillion Shillings in non-tax remittances.

For a period spanning six-months between December 2021 and June 30, 2022, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development collected up to 11.9 billion Shillings accruing from job orders, application fees, license fees and fines.

Meanwhile, the Ministry has commenced preliminary consultations aimed at securing bilateral agreements to diversify labour export to Europe.According to the Ministry, when the process is concluded, Uganda will export knowledge-based professionals like medical practitioners, builders, teachers and drivers among others to Sweden, Denmark, UK, Austria and Spain.

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